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MTA Responds to Council, Residents' Disapproval of Land Deal

A developer and the MTA are exploring the possibility of a massive mixed-use complex in Weho and keep local officials and residents out of the loop.

West Hollywood City Council members and residents spoke out Monday against the possibility of a giant mixed-use development at Santa Monica and San Vicente boulevards, prompting a response from the MTA.

In January the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority agreed to allow developer Cohen Brothers Realty Corp. to create a proposal to turn the existing county property that includes the West Hollywood Sheriff's Station into an underground MTA bus depot as well as a mixed-use commerical, retail and residential behemoth. 

Roger Moliere, MTA chief of real property and new business development, responded to local concerns in an email to Patch.

"The city of West Hollywood will have not only input, but essentially the final say in approval since as in any development, the city’s design guidelines must be met," he said. "As part of the process of any development and certainly in this case, there will be multiple efforts at public outreach as well as multiple public hearings relating to any proposal prior to final submissions."

Moliere also noted that "as a base line, any new development will be required to keep MTA whole—in the exclusive judgment of MTA as to operations and cost, of a bus division of not less than 280 busses. ... The current (agreement) does not constitute an approval of any project or require any approval in the future, it merely allows the developer to analyze, study and design a project and project economics that he feels will meet with the approval of MTA, the city of West Hollywood, who is the ultimate zoning and entitlement authority."

On Monday the council and residents expressed dismay that they were kept out of the loop.

"I will confess that I was completely in the dark about Charles Cohen's plans, and I think all of us here and all of us in the community would prefer that something other than the MTA bus yard be along Santa Monica," said Councilman John Heilman.

"All five up here were pretty flabergasted," Councilman John Duran said. "I haven't lived in the city of West Hollywood for 25 years and defended the Boystown district to see it turned into a mall."

Heilman added, "I don't think it is something that people need to be immediately alarmed, but it is alarming that the MTA went forward with that without getting input from our staff and without getting input from the council."

"It's reall hard to believe that both the city of West Hollywood and the Sheriff's Department would not know that this mega-development was going on," said Weho resident and council candidate Steve Martin.

Cohen Brothers president Charles Cohen, who owns the adjacent Pacific Design Center, did not return a call for comment.

News of the agreement was first reported Friday by WEHOville. Click here to read the website's story.

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Ali February 08, 2013 at 10:25 PM
That "more housing will help bring housing costs down" line is bull. Housing costs in West Hollywood never go down, only up. On the east side, they are going up and up in 50+ year old buildings. One bedrooms are now going for over $1300. All the new buildings going up on La Brea will be tiny apartments with rents probably starting at $1900 or $2000. How is this new development bringing rents down?
Weho Resident 50 February 08, 2013 at 10:39 PM
Ok I read it. You don't understand it? It is clear to me. The housing market is improving in general, costs are going up. There is also inflation over time, and if enough new housing isn't being built to keep up with demand, prices will rise.
me February 09, 2013 at 07:05 PM
oh yes ali, there has been developments in beverly hills....the montage hotel, condos/trader joes at burton way/san vicente, the annenberg center for the performing arts is being build now, and eventually the old robininson's-may site at santa monica/wilshire....the difference is, by and large they understand what their residents want and what drives locals and tourists to their city....they take pride in their heritage and also don't believe bigger is better....west hollywood aims to be a souless concrete jungle lacking of charm, greenery and open space and our beautiful city is being decided by developers who are in bed with our current city council....pasadena is another city that believes in smart growth and saving their local treasures
Stephanie February 17, 2013 at 07:46 PM
Here's a new facebook page where you can access news stories from various sources about what's going on behind the scenes and right under our noses in West Hollywood. Check it out. Become informed and cast your ballot for change on March 5, 2013. http://www.facebook.com/WhoOwnsWeho?ref=ts&fref=ts
me February 17, 2013 at 07:53 PM
SHOCKING!!!....when you see it all on one page like this.....yes, WHO owns weho is a good question!!!....can you say {{{{{{{ D-E-V-E-L-O-P-E-R-S }}}}}}} boys and girls???....the city is clearly for sale and our city council members are selling it all off one block at a time.....who wants to live in a concrete jungle of buildings 6 or more stories up creating a dark tunnel along santa monica blvd, sunset blvd and la brea ave????.....not to mention the insane gridlock of cars on all streets in every direction....do the RESIDENTS really want a Mini- Manhattan???...ohhhh yes, that's right, the city doesn't ASK its residents want they want.....they just ramrod their developer friends projects down our throats....thankfully, a lot of people are starting to fight back against this insanity.......join the fight now people, once the deal is done, there's nothing you can do but choke on the mess the council has created.....GREAT JOB putting this page together folks!!!

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